I love stories set in cold places. I love that to use cold most effectively, seclusion plays a part. What you know and felt, that’s what’s scary for me. And getting freaked out by cold and seclusion… you’d almost think I’m from rural Canada.
I have a collection coming out with Hellbound Books on the twentieth titled DEAD IS DEAD, BUT NOT ALWAYS, there are seven stories and cold and seclusion pop up often. Now, I’ve seen feature posts like these before where an author gets high and mighty about their craft and talks about how each story inspired this or that, or how they took this and made it better. I don’t want anyone to barf, so I’ll just tell you some rad stories based in cold and secluded settings that almost certainly influenced me; definitely entertained me.
In no particular order, five kickass frosty nothingness reads:
THE FARM by Tom Rob Smith is a thriller mystery set in Sweden. A dude has to go check in on his dying mother and secrets begin to unravel. It’s an absolute thriller with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing all the way through. Cool thing, I’d found a like-new hardcover of this one picking through the shelves at Terrace, BC’s hospital auxiliary store, can’t spend fifty-cents much better than that.
BONE WHITE by Ronald Malfi is another thriller, but dips its toes heavily into the horror pool. From what I finished, and there was no contest when it came down to it from any of the new novels that I read last year, this should’ve been on the final ballot if not winning the Stoker for best novel, but I won’t go down that frustrated road… This is a story of a man heading northbound into Alaska to look for his brother. I’m not sure I’d ever read this particular type of atmosphere painted this well before. Skin-crawling and core-rattling, this thing is terrifying.
THE SHINING by Stephen King is an obvious choice, and I talk about it all the time, but it has impacted me in enough ways that maybe I still have some ideas to get across. Everyone knows the story, everyone reading this post anyhow, so I’ll pinpoint a bit. Never before or since (read it twice, holds up) picking up this book has something jarred me so deeply. The isolation and the cold matter in this story because of the cast, and man, when I’m reading about the Torrances, I care more about them than I have about 99% of the people I’ve met in real life. If I live fifty more years, I’ll likely revisit this at least twenty more times.
HARBOR by John Ajvide Lindqvist is a thrilling dark fantasy with a spooky cast of ghosts, magicians, and grieving locals set in a small island village where, guess what, shit is not what it appears. I picked this one up, in hardcover for a quarter at a Rotary Club fundraiser, always have to fight through a hoard of granfolks at rotary club sales, but they never seem to touch the gems I seek anyway. As for this gem, it’s spooky, surprising, and offers a heartbreaking tale just off-kilter in a way that leaves you wowed.
COLD FRONT by Barry Hammond is a diamond in the roughage of garbage eighties paperbacks from the bring’m in and ship’m out days of horror publishing. I picked this up at a used store because of the description mentioning Canada and the title and imagery suggesting a secluded winter backdrop. And holy shit, this story is riveting. It’s about a pair of drunken dudes looking to hide out after committing a crime and stumbling on this woman’s like cottage. Scary stuff picks up beyond the door… but what’s inside might be worse. If you ever see this book, pick it up, for real, but good luck finding it for the right price.
Live somewhere cold or not, we can all understand the dire situations weather can put folks into, add seclusion, maybe that slims the numbers, but it’s a universal idea, same reason cellphones never work in horror flicks. If you’re like me, love this stuff because it’s always been just around the corner.
About the author:
Eddie Generous is the creator, editor, designer, artist, feature writer, interviewer, and PR department of Unnerving and Unnerving Magazine. His collection of DEAD IS DEAD, BUT NOT ALWAYS will be out on April twentieth from Hellbound Books, and he coauthored a collection of slasher shorts titled SPLISH, SLASH, TAKIN’ A BLOODBATH (with Mark Allan Gunnells and Renee Miller). His stories and art have appeared on or in dozens of publications from around the world. He lives on the Pacific Coast of British Columbia with his wife and their cat overlords. Find him on his website www.jiffypopandhorror.com (https://www.jiffypopandhorror.com/), on Twitter @GenerousEd (https://twitter.com/GenerousEd), on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Eddie-Generous/e/B07BHZWHRL/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_7), and of course, on the Unnerving website www.unnervingmagazine.com (https://www.unnervingmagazine.com/).